Last Updated on July 31, 2020
Objective vs Subjective
Back in July we spoke about fake news, and how or perhaps, if, Google was going to combat the problem. Since July the concept of fake news has snowballed and become a much bigger issue for companies like Google and Facebook. The logic used to curate your content is coming under more and more scrutiny. So let’s take another look at fake news.Back in July we spoke about fake news, and how or perhaps, if, Google was going to combat the problem. Since July the concept of fake news has snowballed and become a much bigger issue for companies like Google and Facebook. The logic used to curate your content is coming under more and more scrutiny. So let’s take another look at fake news.Ready to Talk?
What is Fake News
Fake news is unsubstantiated information that is but has been published and then got some kind of traction. For example; you post a blog about how your uncle likes to eat his own boogers, based on the fact that you once saw him scratch his nose. Your blog is then picked up by a town gossip website. Which in turn is then picked up by CNN who run with the headline “Uncle Al forces the whole family to eat his boogers”. Like the children’s game Chinese whispers, the story can often get distorted along the way, and exaggerated, sometimes accidentally but often wilfully to fit an agenda or political narrative.
Who Does it?
One of the best things about the internet is that it gives everyone a voice. Conversely, one of the worst things about the internet is that it gives everyone a voice. Maybe you weren’t trying to be mean by sharing about Uncle Al’s boogers, but once it’s out there your blog is there for the world to see, share and comment on. All sides of the political spectrum are guilty of fake news, left, right, and the center.
In the age of the internet, any pretense of objectivity has been dropped. Building on Seth Godin’s Tribes concept, many online news outlets have stopped challenging their readers with different viewpoints and started pandering to them. This has led to a flood of highly polarised ‘news’ articles from both sides with balanced debate thrown out of the window a long time ago.
If you are aware of this and have the time, you can attempt to find objectivity yourself by reading different accounts of events and reaching your own conclusion. But when you’re relying on a Twitter or Facebook feed to show you both sides of the argument things can get tricky. The main goal of Twitter, Facebook, Google or any other platform like that, is to keep you using their product. Facebook wants you on their app for as long as possible so you can be exposed to as many ads as possible. The same goes for any other monetized social media platform or search engine.
So the idea that Google, or Facebook, would want to change the situation is a weak one. They want you to be happy and keep using their apps. They don’t want you to be challenged or worse, offended, by what you see. So they prioritize things they think you’d like to hear. Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, we just got told what people think we want to hear.
What’s the solution?
For a reader, the solution is to curate your own news. It might take you more time, but you’re certain to get a more balanced view of what is going on in the world. If you’re reading about SEO, don’t just visit websites run by agencies, also visit sites run by freelancers, or app developers, or Google staffers. Get a nuanced opinion from different sources, with different motivations.
How do you try and get balanced information from the web?